Café Discovery: money

Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, ladies and gentleman, from 1953.  This was their first hit.  You may be more familiar with the cover versions by either Eddie Cochran (1959) or what’s his name…Elvis Presley (1956).

Life once again is dominated by, as Terry Pratchett called it, the “reflected-sound-of-underground-spirits”, aka echo-gnomics.  It always distresses me when life becomes all about the money.  But I live here and I live now.  And there is next to no market in the political arena for knowledge, justice, stewardship of the planet and other things that would interest me more.  Or any.  

Money-grubbing sucks.  Accumulation of money sucks the joy out of life.  But that’s just my opinion.

Eymology Online is my friend, but don’t blame them for my rewrites.


The word money dates back to around 1290, with its meaning at the time restricted to “coinage, metal currency.”  It arrived in English from the Old French moneie,  which itself derived from the Latin moneta “mint, coinage,” from Moneta, a title of the Roman goddess Juno, in or near whose temple money was coined.  Perhaps this derived from monere “advise, warn” (see monitor), with the sense of “admonishing goddess,” which is sensible, but the etymology is difficult. It was extended to include paper money in the early 19th century.

Use of the phrase to make money, meaning “earn pay” is first attested to  1457.  The traditional highwayman’s threat your money or your life is first attested to 1841.  The phrase in the money (which appeared in 1902) originally meant “one who finishes among the prize-winners” (as in a horse race). The challenge to put (one’s) money where (one’s) mouth is was first recorded in 1942.  Moneybags, meaning “rich person”, is from 1818.  A  money-grub, “one who is sordidly intent on amassing money,” is from 1768.

I am not interested in money but in the things of which money is the symbol.

–Henry Ford


This word dates from 1657, meaning at the time “condition of flowing.”  It derives from the Latin currentum, the past participle of currere, “to run” (see current).  The sense of a flow or course was extended in 1699 (by John Locke) to “circulation of money.”

Ooooh!  Locke:

From wikipedia:

Labor creates property, but it also does contain limits to its accumulation: man’s capacity to produce and man’s capacity to consume. According to Locke, unused property is waste and an offense against nature. However, with the introduction of “durable” goods, men could exchange their excessive perishable goods for goods that would last longer and thus not offend the natural law. The introduction of money marks the culmination of this process. Money makes possible the unlimited accumulation of property without causing waste through spoilage. … Locke anchors property in labor but in the end upholds the unlimited accumulation of wealth.

And thus we had people like Henry Ford and the Robber Barons that came before him.  It’s just my humble opinion that the phrase “robber baron” needs to be resurrected once again:

Robber baron is a term revived in the 19th century in the United States as a pejorative reference to businessmen and bankers who dominated their respective industries and amassed huge personal fortunes, typically as a direct result of pursuing various anti-competitive or unfair business practices. The term may now be used in relation to any businessman or banker who is perceived to have used questionable business practices or scams in order to become powerful or wealthy.


While “researching” this piece (which consists of following my instincts, copying, pasting, and maybe doing a rewrite…in other words, sitting on the doorstep of plagiarism, but giving credit liberally), I tripped over a site with slang terms for money.  As a public service, I provide those here, in case anyone suffers a deficiency:

    dough (counterfeit money was “sourdough”), moolah, rhino, spondulix, greenbacks, bucks, pony (rhyming slanged into macaroni), monkey, C-note, grand, note, bar, smacker, bacon, bread, cabbage, lettuce, kale, folding green, long green, jack, scratch, clams, simoleons…

Finally, since we had Locke, Orson Scott Card demands that Demosthenes be given equal time:

“We need money, for sure, Athenians, and without money nothing can be done that ought to be done.”

Demosthenes (First Olynthiac, 20) – The orator took great pains to convince his countrymen that the reform of the theoric fund was necessary to finance the city’s military preparations.

I’m left with bewilderment over how the world came to be such a place.


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    • Robyn on September 28, 2008 at 21:07

    Money: There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money.

    –Sophocles (496 BC – 406 BC), Antigone

    Endless money forms the sinews of war.

    –Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), Philippics

    There is some magic in wealth, which can thus make persons pay their court to it, when it does not even benefit themselves. How strange it is, that a fool or knave, with riches, should be treated with more respect by the world, than a good man, or a wise man in poverty!

    –Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1764

    He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

    –Benjamin Franklin

    No one can earn a million dollars honestly.

    –William Jennings Bryan

    The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.

    –G. K. Chesterton, Flying Inn, 1914

    The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.

    –Edith Wharton

    If all the rich people in the world divided up their money among themselves there wouldn’t be enough to go around.

    –Christina Stead, House of All Nations, 1938, “Credo”

    The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.

    –H. L. Mencken

    If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

    –Dorothy Parker

    I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.

    –e e cummings

    I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

    –Jackie Mason

    Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you’ll be surprised at how little you have.

    –Ernest Haskins

    The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.

    –Katharine Whitehorn

    • RiaD on September 28, 2008 at 21:26

    • dkmich on September 28, 2008 at 21:55

  1. … rights to uncertain flows of money into rights to uncertain flows of money with AAA rating.

    How a Little House Threatens Pension Funds and Insurance Companies

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